Japanese Protesters Call for Japan’s Nuclear Armament on Hiroshima Anniversary

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

By Angela Kubo

Tokyo- (PanOrient News) A group of Japanese demonstrators gathered in Tokyo today called on their government to obtain nuclear weapons and scrap Japan’s peace constitution so that it can have a standing army.

The protest, held on the day Japan marks as the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima by U.S. forces, was organized by Zainichi Tokken o Yurusanai Shimin no Kai (Citizens Against Special Privilege of Zainichi Koreans), also known as Zaitokukai, a nationalist group noted for its anti-Korean protests and a far-right doctrine. They also called upon the Japanese government to arm itself in order to resolve its territorial disputes.

“Today is the day that nuclear weapons were dropped for the first time in Japan and for the first time in mankind. This is a demonstration calling for Japan to obtain nuclear weapons in order to protect itself, so that Japan will never be subjected to nuclear dosages ever again,” the leader of Zaitokukai, Makoto Sakurai, told PanOrient News.

Under Article 9 of the post-war constitution, Japan cannot maintain armed military forces. The Japan Self-Defense Forces are limited to peace-keeping and rescue operations. Currently, they cannot initiate attack on a foreign country.

Although Japan maintains a security treaty with the United States that allows the former to maintain military bases on Japanese territory in exchange for protection under the U.S.’s nuclear umbrella, Sakurai doubts that such an arrangement can protect his country from foreign attack and believes that national protection should be left solely to Japan.

“American bases are for the purpose of protecting the United States. They won’t necessarily protect Japan, so a country which irresponsibly does not defend itself is not believed in by anyone. It cannot be trusted by anyone. In order to become a country which can be trusted, it must be able to properly protect itself on its own. I think that’s obvious,” he said.

As the group left Sakamotocho Park in central Tokyo, they were accompanied by police and followed by counter-protesters who organized themselves online. Both groups exchanged verbal threats and abuse.

“The protesters say that Japan can take care of itself if it took up nuclear weapons. That’s absurd! I’m against that, and because they’re saying these things on August 6, the anniversary of the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima, I can’t forgive them, so that’s why I’m here,” said Norio Oishi, one of the counter-protesters.

Meanwhile in Hiroshima, about fifty thousand people, including survivors of the 1945 bomb, gathered at a memorial service to observe a moment of silence. The mayor of Hiroshima, Kazumi Matsui, stated in a Peace Declaration, “We will again think of the efforts of our predecessors of 68 years, and pledge to abolish nuclear weapons which are an absolute evil and work towards the realization of a peaceful world.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who also attended the memorial ceremony, said, “We Japanese are the only people to have experienced the horror of nuclear devastation in war. As such a people, we bear a responsibility to bring about a world without nuclear weapons without fail.” At the conclusion of his speech he stated that Japan will continue to adhere to the "Three Non-Nuclear Principles" and work towards the “total abolition of nuclear weapons and the realization of eternal world peace.”

In Tokyo, when the protesters arrived at the ruling Liberal Democratic Party Headquarters, organizers entered the building to submit a letter addressed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that called on for him to rethink Japan’s nuclear weapons’ policy.

A copy of the letter, which was obtained by PanOrient News, congratulated Abe on his Upper House election win last month. It argued, “Already China and North Korea show off the existence of nuclear weapons to their neighbors, including Japan. It can be said that they demonstrate sufficient power when viewed as a nuclear deterrent. On the other hand, although our country has focused on missile defense, it is impossible that it can absolutely intercept all ballistic missiles, so it is a matter of course that Japan builds its own nuclear deterrent as an umbrella.”

Furthermore, the letter stated, "Indeed, Japan is the only country in this world which is suffered from atomic bombings. However, our neighboring countries do not spare any extra consideration for that. As a matter fact, China and North Korea have been imposing threats of nuclear attacks against Japan as they possess nuclear weapons. The government has to think of all the possibilities to protect its nation."

The letter concluded by requesting that the Prime Minister quickly start a debate within the government about arming the country with nuclear weapons in order to protect itself. Despite the strong stigma surrounding anything nuclear due to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Fukushima meltdown two years earlier, the Zaitokukai have indicated their determination to put Japan’s rearmament on the national radar.

Angela Kubo is a PanOrient News reporter.

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